Anna Halprin received the American Dance Festival’s Scripp Award for lifetime achievement in modern dance on this date in 1997. She was the founder of the San Francisco Dancers’ Workshop in 1955, where her students included Meredith Monk, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, Ruth Emmerson, Sally Gross, and others who sought to create “post-modern dance,” released from the constraints of modern dance technique. Over the course of decades, Halprin also provided a creative haven for such dancers as Merce Cunningham, Eiko and Koma, and Min Tanaka; composers John Cage and Terry Riley; visual artists Robert Morris and Robert Whiteman; and numerous other creative, avant-garde artists. She has created 150 full-length dance theater works, broken major ground in the fields of dance therapy and dance as a healing force, and has been named one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures” by the Dance Heritage Coalition. A recent film, Breath Made Visible, documents Halprin’s life work.
“She has reverted to the early meaning of dance in human society, joyful and healing as well as tragic, and based on the most primitive needs of the human condition. These dances are universal.” —Lawrence Halprin